Best Time to Visit Japan: Weather By Month and Season

The best time to visit Japan is in November and in April. Both of these months fall outside of Japan’s summer high tourism scene and offer experiences you can’t find at any other time of the year.

Although a tad cooler, the fall month of November is a fantastic time of year to travel to Japan. Temperatures are still comfortable in most of the country, with the added bonus of less rainfall than during the peak summer season. April is an excellent alternative, too, thanks to falling at the tail-end of Japan’s cherry blossom (sakura) season. Keep in mind, though, that the cherry blossoms attract large crowds of tourists and locals to popular travel destinations around Japan, like Kyoto and Nara.

Ready to get the full low-down on when to visit this fascinating country? Plan the ultimate itinerary with this complete Japan weather guide by season and month, including where to go, what to expect, and what to wear!

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Weather in Japan: An overview

Japan has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. In general, summer is hot and humid, while winter is cool. Weather conditions in spring and autumn fall somewhere between. Unfortunately, this isn’t much help for planning a trip to Japan!

Winter in Takayama

One of the first things to know before travelling to Japan is that there’s a BIG swing in temperatures and weather conditions throughout the year. The climate varies significantly, even between regions. It ranges from the cool, humid temperate climate of Hokkaido in the north to the warm tropical rainforest in the Yaeyama Islands to the south. The massive variation can be surprising, especially if you’re used to the less extreme temperature differentials elsewhere in East Asia.

Add to that the all-too-real possibility of natural disasters like tsunamis, typhoons, and earthquakes, and you’ll see why choosing when to visit Japan is such a challenge. (Just ask the Japan Meteorological Agency!)

While it won’t substitute digging deeper into the climates of each region and checking Japanese weather forecasts before you go, below I’ve provided a general overview of the weather in Japan by season and by month. In each section, you’ll find recommendations on where to go and what to wear to help you plan your Japan itinerary whenever you decide to go.

Weather by season


When is spring in Japan?

Spring in Japan falls between March and May.

What to expect in Japan in spring?

Coming off of the cool winter months, the temperatures throughout Japan begin to rise as March rolls in. Early spring remains cool in northern Japan. The south, on the other hand, begins to return to its balmy warmth.

Cherry Blossoms at Osaka Castle

Spring is one of the most interesting seasons to visit Japan, as the plum and cherry blossoms are in full swing. The cherry blossom season changes from year to year but usually peaks between late March and mid-April. You can check the Japan National Tourist Association’s official website for the official cherry blossom forecast when it’s released.

Late April and early May are among the busiest times of the year in Japan. Aside from the cherry blossoms, a string of national holidays forms the country’s famous Golden Week. You’ll need to book accommodations and tickets well ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Deciding what to wear in spring? A lightweight rain jacket and light sweater should suffice throughout Japan for most of the season. In northern Japan and at the beginning of the season, you’ll want to bundle up more. Pack a softshell coat or fleece jacket and extra layers of warmer clothing.

Spring festivals & holidays

  • Golden Week: late April to early May
  • Showa Day: April 29th
  • Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi): May 3rd
  • Green Day (Midori no hi): May 4th
  • Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi): May 5th


When is summer in Japan?

Summer in Japan is from June to August.

What to expect in Japan in summer?

Summer is the hottest and most humid season in Japan. Although it’s the busiest time of year for international tourists, summer isn’t one of the most comfortable seasons to visit the country.

June, particularly the beginning, is one of the rainiest times of the year. In the heat and humidity, finding adventures in the cooler mountain areas makes travelling more comfortable in summer. 

Osaka Castle Park

If visiting Japan in summer, be aware that the summer months kick off typhoon season in Japan. The typhoon season in Japan generally runs from July to October. The bulk of the fury, however, often hits Japan between the months of August and September.

In the dead heat of summer, you’ll want to go light with your clothing. Aim to bring along lightweight travel clothes that’ll keep you cool in the humidity.

Surprisingly enough, you should also pack a light sweater or cardigan for the over-air-conditioned restaurants and stores throughout Japan. Since rain is inevitable in Japan’s summer heat, bringing along an ultralight rain jacket is also a great idea.

Summer festivals & holidays

  • Gion Matsuri (Kyoto)
  • Tenjin Matsuri (Osaka)
  • Nebuta Matsuri (Aomori)
  • Awa Odori


When is autumn in Japan?

Autumn in Japan lasts between September and November.

What to expect in Japan in autumn?

In autumn, temperatures throughout Japan begin to settle down from the extreme heat of summer. Fall is one of the best times to travel around Japan to enjoy outdoor activities. You’ll get to relax in cool breezes among the changing leaves and fall foliage.

Thanks to the beautiful autumn scenery, fall is also a great time of year to go hiking in Japan. You’ll also have a better chance of catching scenes of the iconic (and elusive) Mount Fuji at their clearest.

Fall Colours in Kyoto

Similar to spring, you’ll want to pack a light jacket and light sweaters in your travel backpack. During the day, you should be able to get away with a long-sleeved shirt or even a t-shirt on warmer days. You should plan to dress in layers, just in case. Don’t forget to pack a comfortable and durable pair of hiking shoes if you’re planning to hike.

Autumn festivals & holidays

  • Kichijoji Autumn Festival
  • Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
  • Sapporo Autumn Fest
  • Nagasaki Kunchi Festival
  • Jidai Matsuri
  • Kurama Fire Festival


When is winter in Japan?

Winter in Japan is between December and February.

What to expect in Japan in winter?

As expected, winter is the coolest season in Japan and generally the driest. The one exception is Hokkaido. The regular snowfall in Japan’s northernmost island during winter offers plenty of incentives for winter sports enthusiasts to visit, including the country’s finest skiing & snowboarding.

Winter also hosts a handful of national holidays, including Japan’s national day, National Foundation Day, celebrated on February 11th, and the Emperor’s Birthday on February 23rd or 24th. Be sure to plan accordingly if visiting around these days.

Winter in Susukino in Sapporo, Japan

Besides your usual indoor clothes, you’ll need a warm overcoat and warm sweaters in most areas of Japan during the winter months. Layering a fleece jacket with a waterproof outer shell is perfect for taking on the ski slopes.

The exception to this rule is in the southern islands. Throughout most of the winter, you should still be able to get away with a light jacket or sweater.

Winter festivals & holidays

  • Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri
  • Sapporo Snow Festival
  • Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
  • Nagasaki Lantern Festival

Weather By Month


  • Overview: The weather in January is generally dry and sunny. With the exception of New Year, the crowds throughout Japan are smaller than in other months. Average lows are between -8ºC in Sapporo and 14ºC in Naha, with average highs of -1ºC and 19ºC.
  • Where to go: Northern Japan sees a lot of snowfall, making it the perfect destination for winter sports like skiing. If you want to escape the cool temperatures, Southern Japan is relatively mild in January.


  • Overview: Not all that different from January, February in Japan is wonderfully dry and sunny. Average low temperatures hover between -7ºC in Sapporo and 14ºC in Naha. Average highs are between 0ºC and 19ºC from north to south. Japan’s national holiday (National Foundation Day) and the Emperor’s Birthday also fall in February.
  • Where to go: Like January, aim for the winter sports wonderland of Hokkaido or the alpine regions. Seeing small Japanese villages blanketed by snow or dipping into an authentic onsen experience with slightly milder temperatures than January makes February the perfect month for anyone wanting to visit Japan in winter! The famous Sapporo Snow Festival also takes place over seven days in February.

Fujihashi Castle


  • Overview: Conditions get much milder in the first official month of spring in Japan. Plum trees and cherry blossoms start to bloom in the southern parts of Japan near the end of the month. Average lows drop anywhere from -4ºC in Sapporo to 16ºC in Okinawa, while average highs throughout most of the country sit between 4ºC and 21ºC.
  • Where to go: The winter sports season is at its tail-end during March. Most Japanese cities begin to de-thaw from winter and are pleasant to walk around as long as you’re properly dressed. Avoid travelling towards late March as school holidays kick in.


  • Overview: Even milder than March, April is one of the best times to go to Japan. By now, sakura season is in full force. Cherry blossoms bust out incredible scenes all over the country. Average daytime highs jump up to 11ºC in Sapporo and 24ºC in Naha, while average lows sit at 3ºC and 19ºC.
  • Where to go: Other than Hokkaido, nearly everywhere in Japan is in full bloom by April. In fact, April is perhaps the best time to visit Tokyo and other big Japanese cities for its combination of mild temperatures, sunny days, drier conditions, and the peak of cherry blossom season. Keep the crowds in mind as late April brings Golden Week, the biggest domestic travel period of the year. You should book well in advance if you’re planning to travel during the Golden Week holidays.

Cherry Blossoms at a Japanese Shrine


  • Overview: Temperatures continue to rise into May, making it one of the most pleasant months of the year to travel to Japan. The vegetation throughout Japan has already become thick and lush. Temperature averages hover between lows of 8ºC and 22ºC and highs of 17ºC and 26ºC in Sapporo and Naha, respectively.
  • Where to go: Most of Japan is pleasant to travel through in May. The exception is Okinawa, where the rainy season is starting. With the exception of Golden Week at the beginning of the month, the crowds are smaller in May in Japan. Tackling the busiest tourist areas is smart in May. It’s the perfect month to dig into all the fun things to do in Kyoto and check out the top attractions in Osaka. May is also the perfect time to start flexing your Japan rail pass.


  • Overview: Rainfall picks up significantly in early June as the rainy season hits. The temperatures in Japan in June also begin to climb from the mild conditions of May. Average lows range from 12ºC in the north in Sapporo to 25ºC in the south in Naha. Highs hover around 21ºC and 29ºC for the two cities.
  • Where to go: Hokkaido is the driest Japanese tourist destination during June and one of the most pleasant places to visit. Escaping cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto for hot springs resorts is a good idea in June.

Summer in Fukuoka


  • Overview: The rainy season in Japan is all but finished by the end of July. Throughout Japan, the heat and humidity in July can be off-putting. Temperatures in Japan rise even more, with average lows in Sapporo sitting at 17ºC and at 26ºC in Naha. High temperatures are even bigger, with Sapporo hitting an average of 25ºC and Naha blazing at 31ºC.
  • Where to go: Finding refuge at higher elevations will keep you cool during the heat of July. Launching a one week in Hokkaido itinerary (or more!) is a great choice in July. Be sure to plan your trip around the school holidays, which start in late July and extend into August.


  • Overview: Like other summer months, August in Japan is hot, humid, and generally uncomfortable. Towards the end of the month, typhoon season starts to roll into Japan. Needless to say, this is not an optimal time to travel to Japan. Average temperatures soar to average lows of 19ºC in Sapporo and 26ºC in Naha, with average highs of 26ºC and 31ºC.
  • Where to go: With central Japan mired in extreme heat and humidity, Hokkaido and other elevated areas are your best bet for staying comfortable. August is high season for Japanese domestic travel. Be sure to book your accommodations ahead of time.

Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto


  • Overview: The heat and humidity in Japan continue into September with a little respite. Typhoon season is usually in full swing, slamming the coast with a flurry of foul conditions. Average temperatures throughout the country range from lows of 14ºC in Sapporo and 25ºC in Naha to highs of 22ºC and 30ºC, respectively.
  • Where to go: With the possibility of typhoons, the coastal areas aren’t the most pleasant places to visit in Japan in September. Travelling to Honshu (Japan’s main island) or Hokkaido works better. By September, the high tourism season in Japan is over. You’ll enjoy a little extra breathing room through the country. Digging into Tokyo’s cool tourist attractions is a great idea in September.


  • Overview: In October, Japan becomes more comfortable to travel in thanks to a reduction in the heat and humidity. It’s still warm enough, however, to enjoy yourself outside without covering up too much. Average temperatures get as low as 7ºC in Sapporo and 23ºC in Naha, while highs hover around the 16ºC and 28ºC marks.
  • Where to go: October is one of the top months to explore Japan to its fullest. Although the far north starts to get a little cooler, the early explosion of fall colours makes a good argument for October being the best time to visit Hokkaido. Staying in the three major tourist cities—Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto—is more comfortable in October than in September.

Mt. Fuji overlooking Sayama Lake


  • Overview: For its mild temperatures and low rainfall, November gets a huge thumbs-up. By now, the autumn foliage is in full force, and the leaves have erupted into a torrent of fall colours. High season is officially behind you, and you’ll find Japan much quieter than at other times of the year. Average temperatures dip to lows of 1ºC in Sapporo and a still comfortable 20ºC in Naha. Average highs of 8ºC in Sapporo and 24ºC in Nara really begin to show the temperature gap between north and south.
  • Where to go: Hokkaido’s plummeting temperatures might be off-putting for many travellers. Honshu is still relatively mild in November and is the perfect place to witness the Japanese autumn colours in full force. Under the fall colours, this could very well be the ideal time to visit Kyoto! With the relatively lower tourist numbers, this is also a fantastic month to stay in Tokyo at more reasonable prices. November is also an excellent time to visit the Mount Fuji area; it’s often at its clearest in this dry and mild month.


  • Overview: Colder than November but still dry, December isn’t such a bad month for visiting Japan. Average temperatures start to dip even more, with Sapporo seeing lows of -4ºC and Naha hitting 16ºC. Average highs in Sapporo only reach a chilly 2ºC while Naha still has spring-like conditions at 21ºC.
  • Where to go: If the colder temperatures don’t bother you, the cities of Honshu should be quiet during most of December. Northern Japan is a little too chilly for most casual travellers. But the end of the month sees the winter sports season gearing up; it’s the perfect time to launch a Hokkaido itinerary! To escape the cold, head down to the warmer climes of Okinawa.

Final recommendations

The best month to visit Japan is either November or April.

Why visit in November?

Overall, travelling to Japan in November is your best choice. The biggest reason is simple: the weather. Unlike the wet, hot, and humid months that precede it, November is an excellent compromise between warmth and dryness.

Autumn in Tokyo

Sure, November isn’t filled with balmy t-shirt-wearing days. But what you’ll lose in heat, you’ll make up for in both lower precipitation and elbow room.

And let’s not forget the fall colours: November is the perfect time of year in Japan for that, too!

Why visit in April?

It’s a real toss-up. Although November might inch out April by a slight margin, it’s easy to see why travelling to Japan in April is also a fantastic idea.

April is the prime time to witness Japan’s famous cherry blossoms in full bloom. Walking the streets of Kyoto or through a park in Tokyo at this time of year is an experience everyone should have in their life.

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo

And then there’s the weather.

Along with November, April is one of the most comfortable months to go to Japan. There’s relatively little rain in most areas of Japan in April. The temperatures in most Japanese cities are also mild.

The only downfall of travelling to Japan in April is the crowds. With the cherry blossoms in full swing, spring school holidays, and Golden Week, April can be a busy time in Japan. You’ll need to plan ahead if you decide to visit in April.

Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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